1878 Morgan Dollar (8 Tail Feathers)

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1878 Morgan Dollar (8 Tail Feathers), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (8 Tail Feathers), Reverse
Price Guide (Mint State)
G4 Decreasered.png40 MS60 PR60 1.6K
VG8 Decreasered.png42 MS61 PR61 1.8K
F12 Decreasered.png43 MS62 170 PR62 2.5K
VF20 Decreasered.png50 MS63 250 PR63 3.3K
XF40 Decreasered.png53 MS64 550 PR64 4.9K
AU50 80 MS65 1,750 PR65 8.7K
AU53 MS66 10K PR66 15K
AU55 Decreasered.png90 MS67 46K PR67 50K
AU58 •••• MS68 PR68
MS69 PR69
MS70 •••• PR70 ••••
Price Guide (Prooflike)
G4 •••• PL60 CAM60 1.5K
VG8 •••• PL61 CAM61 1.7K
F12 •••• PL62 175 CAM62 2.5
VF20 •••• PL63 310 CAM63 3.9K
XF40 •••• PL64 750 CAM64 7.5K
AU50 •••• PL65 2.2K CAM65 20K
AU53 •••• PL66 CAM66
AU55 •••• PL67 CAM67
AU58 •••• PL68 CAM68
PL69 CAM69
PL70 •••• CAM70 ••••
Price Guide (Deep Mirror Prooflike)
G4 •••• DMPL60 DCAM60
VG8 •••• DMPL61 DCAM61
F12 •••• DMPL62 220 DCAM62
VF20 •••• DMPL63 1.1K DCAM63
XF40 •••• DMPL64 5.3K DCAM64
AU50 •••• DMPL65 19.2K DCAM65
AU53 •••• DMPL66 45K DCAM66
AU55 •••• DMPL67 DCAM67
AU58 •••• DMPL68 DCAM68
DMPL69 DCAM69
DMPL70 •••• DCAM70 ••••

The 1878 Morgan Dollar (8 Tail Feathers) is especially attractive to collectors for two reasons, 1) it is the first year the Morgan Dollar was issued and 2) the strikes varied as they perfected the design, now called the "tail feather" varieties.

Specifications

  • Designer: George T. Morgan
  • Obverse Design: Lady Liberty
  • Reverse Design: Eagle holding arrows and olive branch
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Weight: 26.73 grams
  • Diameter: 38.1 millimeters
  • Composition: Silver (90%), Copper (10%)
  • Mintage: Circulation Strikes: est. 700,000-750,000, Proofs: est. 500[1]
  • Reference Nos.: KM# 110, PCGS# 7072, PCGS# 7073, PCGS# 97073

Background

1878 Morgan Dollar 8 Tail feathers

When the Morgan Dollar was first designed and struck, the eagle on the reverse displayed 8 tail feathers ---apparently a number not found in nature. Eagles only have 7 tail feathers. Once the error was detected, a new pattern was created to over-punch the existing coins. This created a second 1878 variety, the 1878 Morgan Dollar (7/8 Tail Feathers) because the new, 7 feather stamping can be detected on previously-existing 8 feather coins. Once all existing coins were corrected at the mint, the third and final 1878 coin was released, the 1878 Morgan Dollar (7 Tail Feathers).

Collecting

Collecting 1878 Morgan Dollars is great fun because you can seek out these varieties, hold them in your hand, and visualize the mint's early minting of the extremely popular Morgan Dollar.

The three varieties of the 1878 Philadelphia Mint Morgan silver dollars:

Some collectors maintain the 1878 eight tail feather variety is not an "error." The dollars were simply made then changed to seven tail feathers as part of a larger design change. Meaning, George T. Morgan, nor anyone for that matter, cared how many feathers were displayed on the eagle. It was simply an iteration that made it's way through the mint.[2]

Whether you believe the number of tail feathers was changed for accuracy or as part of a larger design change is up to you but this DOES illustrate how minute details capture collector's attention! Sleep has been lost among collectors who know there is an 1878 Morgan variety missing from their collection.

1878 Morgan dollars are discussed and examined at length in the 3rd edition of the Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars, by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis.[3] This book devotes it's attention to the Morgan Dollar, the 1878 eight tail feather variety and others. This article and others in the Morgan Dollar series is a great on-line resource for sharing these details with other collectors. The 8 Tail Feather variety is often seen by collectors as the starting point in their Morgan Dollar collection.

A quantity of Morgan dollars with eight tail feathers were released in 1878 and the following years. It's estimated 700,000-750,000 were minted for circulation and 500 proofs created.

They were were not rare at the time but times have changed. In Uncirculated condition, this variety appears most often in MS-63, with MS-62 and MS-64 nearly tied for second place (the finest examples graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service are a single MS-67, 10 MS-65 Prooflikes, and 1 MS-66 Deep Mirror Prooflikes). Not easy to acquire.

Mintages may be incorrect because this variety shows up in the market more frequently than any other of the year, even though other varieties (like the 1878 7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878) have estimated mintages as high as seven times as much. It is encouraged you discuss these details with other collectors, dealers, and professional graders ---also pay close attention to design details yourself before making a purchase.

Historical Background in 1878

Charles Earl Bowles (b.1829; d.after 1888), better known as Black Bart

The economic depression, which began in 1873, was still being felt. Over 10,000 business had failed since the slowdown.

In California, the poet and American West outlaw calling himself "Black Bart" makes his last clean getaway when he steals a safe box from a Wells Fargo stagecoach. The empty box is found later with a taunting poem inside.

On February 19, 1878, Edison was issued the first patent (U.S. patent #200,521) for the phonograph.[4] While other inventors had produced devices that could record sounds, Edison's phonograph was the first to be able to reproduce the recorded sound.

On November 17, the first assassination attempt is made against Umberto I of Italy and on November 21st the Second Afghan War commences when the British attack Ali Masjid in the Khyber Pass.

Die Varieties

Following are the many VAM die varieties of the 1878 8TF Morgan Dollar. Several have been identified as "Top 100 VAMs" for collectors. These include VAM-5, 9, 11, 15, and 17.

1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-1), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-1)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-2), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-2)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-2A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-2A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-3), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-3)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-4), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-4)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-5), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-5)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-6), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-6)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-7), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-7)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-8), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-8)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-9), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-9)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-9A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-9A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-10), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-10)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-11), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-11)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-12), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-12)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-13), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-13)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-1), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-1)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-1A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-1A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-2), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-2)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-3), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-3)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-4), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-4)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-4A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-4A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-5), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-5)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-6), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-6)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-7), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-7)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-8), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-8)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-9), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-9)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-10), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-10)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-11), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-11)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-12), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-12)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-13), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-13)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-14), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-14)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-15), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-15)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-16), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-16)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-17), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-17)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-18), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-18)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-19), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-19)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-20), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-14-20)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-15), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-15)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-16), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-16)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-17), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-17)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-18), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-18)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-18A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-18A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-19), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-19)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-20), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-20)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-21), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-21)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-22), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-22)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-22A), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-22A)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-22B), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-22B)
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-23), Obverse
1878 Morgan Dollar (VAM-23)

Mints

References

External Links